Articles - New Homes

Accessing a Whole New House Design

16th June 2015
John Gelavis Column - 16/06/15

First published in the West Australian's New Homes magazine, June 13th 2015

Making your home accessible helps to meet changing needs across a lifetime and ensures that everyone can live in or visit your home in comfort.

Liveable Homes is a concept that will benefit new homeowners and occupiers and future generations. It is an approach that makes houses easier to live in and move around in. Accessible homes support the whole community, including our ageing population, parents with small children and people with temporary or permanent disability, and it starts in the planning and design stage.

Incorporating accessible design features into your new home doesn’t mean compromising on style or blowing your budget. In fact, modern interior design already lends itself to accessibility. Open-plan living, spacious kitchens, wide entry doors and slung bathroom basins all contribute to accessibility and are the epitome of modern home design.

A flat entry, wide doorways and hallways and an accessible toilet and shower can make a huge difference to the accessibility of the home without compromising design or cost.

Simple considerations at the planning and design stage can make a dramatic difference to the liveability of the home. Retrofitting as an afterthought can be a more costly exercise.

The Liveable Homes initiative has seen the State Government partner with the Western Australian building industry to educate and equip it with the tools and resources required to build accessible homes.

There are a number of great resources available to assist builders, including the Liveable Homes website ( which was created to provide resources to assist builders, designers, architects and homeowners incorporate universal design in their homes.

HIA is continuing to work hard to encourage the industry to expand the number of private and public sector homes that are liveable for everyone. By educating the industry and providing workable tools, we have seen major builders, home designers and architects throughout WA actively incorporating accessible features in their housing designs, and that is fantastic.

HIA also has a Liveable Home category in its annual awards program which we hope will further inspire the industry to build accessible homes.

Entries for the category are assessed against criteria such as workmanship quality, design effectiveness, visual appeal, innovation, environmental sustainability and market relevance and also on how well the essential and desirable design features outlined in the Liveable Homes resources have been used.

For more information on Liveable Homes and to access resources including technical manuals, checklists, fact sheets, a list of essential and desirable design features and variety of house plans, visit


John Gelavis is the executive director of the WA Housing Industry Association. Follow him on Twitter at @HIA_WA


Pic: Webb & Brown-Neaves